No sports field manager wants the turf problems the San Francisco 49ers have had to deal with at Levi's Field. The sod at the stadium has repeatedly failed, requiring costly new installations. While you may not be sodding a professional stadium, how can you keep your playing field's new sod from failing?
Carefully evaluate the turf environment.
Laying down the sod is the easiest part of greening up your playing field. The preparation and planning that happen before the sod is laid will determine the success or failure of your field's playing surface.
- The USDA growing zone where the field is located.
- The amount of sunlight the grass will receive.
- The soil quality beneath the turf.
- How often the field will be used for sports and other activities.
- Local environmental factors that will impact the grass.
- The seasons when the field will be in use.
Armed with this information, your sod specialists will help you prepare your field for the new grass. Amendments may need to be added to your field if there is excessive sand or clay as a base soil. Lime or other grass-friendly soil enhancements will also be required if soil pH is acidic or lacking in nutrients. Beefing up the soil where the sod will be placed is one of the best ways to ensure your playing field gets off to the healthiest start.
Ask about endophyte-enhanced turf.
There is a type of fungi, known as endophytic fungi, that has a symbiotic relationship with perennial rye grasses and certain types of fescue. The grass protects and feeds the endophytes and in return, the fungus emits a chemical that deters insects including sod webworms, chinches, aphids and thrips.
Research has shown that a field will have far fewer insect issues even if only 20% of the sod is endophytic. This protection will give you a more robust playing field and will cut down on maintenance costs for pesticides and dead grass sections.
If the field will be grazed by livestock during off-season months, you do not want to use endophytic-enhanced sod. That's because the fungus is great for grass, but not so great for horses and other livestock. In large animals, endophytes can cause spontaneous abortions, low milk production and even death. The endophytes pose no risk to humans, however, so as long as no livestock will use the field, it's perfectly safe for players and fans.
Follow the professionals' advice to the letter.
You'll be given information on maintenance and use of the field, so be sure to follow the instructions carefully. Watering, mowing, and fertilizing as recommended is the best way to keep your field green and tough enough for play. Protecting the sod until it becomes established and making certain the grass is not abused or overused will also keep your playing field turf in superior shape.
It's sometimes necessary to over seed your sod with a different variety of grass to keep the field green for a longer period. For example, when you use a variety like Bermuda, which browns up at frost, you may want to seed with a cold-weather grass like rye. Ask your sod supplier about the best times to plant grass seed, and find out which varieties of seed will enhance your field.
Your sod professionals have experience creating sturdy, safe, and attractive sports fields. Give them a call today to learn which sod will work best for your specific playing area and the athletes who use it.